Commentary

Programmatic Video Buyers Open Up About Open Exchanges, Say They're Just Too Risky -- Sort Of

Don’t expect the video/TV marketplace to evolve into the kind of openly biddable marketplace that display has developed with open RTB. That was the consensus of “programmatic video” panel discussion kicking off the Programmatic Insider Summit in Lake Tahoe this morning.

Asked by Real-Time Daily Editor and panel moderator why they aren’t embracing open exchanges as a means of acquiring video impressions, the largely agency executive panel invoked the “r” word. You know, “risk.” They simply see video inventory available via open exchanges as still too risky from a brand safety point-of-view.

“Personally, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take,” Razorfish Senior Vice President-North American Media Brian Leder, said. End of story.

Essence Director of Programmatic and Audience Oscar Garza seconded that thought, adding, “We tend not to take a risk unless it’s measurable and appropriate for our clients.”

That said, it wasn’t 100% clear to this audience attendee whether that was some sort of unilateral rule for Essence, because Garza alluded to using open exchanges alongside private marketplaces in some ways, so long as they delivered the brand and campaign objective. On that point, he was 100% clear, noting, “One of the metrics we’re looking at is the cost-per-point-of-brand-lift.”

Aside from being the longest acronym to invade ad tech yet -- the CPMOBL -- I’m not sure why that cannot be applied equally to audiences acquired via open exchanges as it is through direct and private deals.

But I’m not a programmatic buyer.

Louise Clements, who is president of MRM/McCann East, said there’s another solution for building programmatic video audience scale without tapping open exchanges. Her agency’s solution is to go direct to publishers and structure deals involving “tier 2” and “tier 3” content.

“It is a way to get scale without risk,” she said.

Interestingly, she said MRM/McCann doesn't really buy "tier 1" video inventory that way, regardless of how safe it may be, for an entirely different acronym: "ROI"

She said tier 2 and tier 3 inventory generate "ten times" the return on programmatic ad dollar investments vs. tier 1 video inventory.

To me, it sounds like a way for agencies to not have to deal with the risk of acquiring video audience impressions without the safety net of a publisher sanctioning it.

Later, during the Q&A, Essence's Garza clarified that his agency does in fact utilize open video audience exchanges, because it has developed methods for managing the risk (i.e. things like its cost-per-point-of-brand-lift metric, etc.).

"We feel we have mitigated the risk so that we can participate in open exchanges," he confirmed.

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